L is for Labour, L is for losers

Richard Harman snuck into the back of a Fabian Society meeting and found out that there are some on the left-wing dealing with unpalatable truths.

The Labour Party party is failing because it lacks vision.

That near heretical proposition was put to a Fabian Society meeting in Wellington last night by one of the left’s icons, economist, Brian Easton.

Even more provocatively, he argued that the Key-English Government had simply fine tuned the Clark Government’s economic policies and done little to reverse them preferring to promise to run the existing system better.

Out of this, he concluded that social democrats ?in New Zealand had long lacked a political vision and that was why they had been unable to counter neo liberalism.

And because of that, the current Labour Opposition lacked a narrative to apply to its critiques of the current Government which might resonate with the electorate.

Good gracious, Brian Easton will be excommunicated for such heresy.

Easton said that the Clark Government had got into power in 1999 determined to repeal the more extreme elements of Roger Douglas’s neoliberalism which had seen policy favour the rich at the expense of Labour?s traditional poor and middle-class supporters.

?But it repealed only two-thirds of the extremism, after which it seemed to run out of ideas,? he said.

Why? he asked.

Some said it became more cautious as it lost electoral popularity, other said it lacked the intellectual grunt.

And he is also blaming Saint Helen of Mt Albert. Apostate!

?You see this in the response of Labour in Opposition,? he said.

?The National Government has fine tuned Labour?s legacy but has done little to progress or reverse it.

?Labour in Opposition has largely agreed with them.

?Its characteristic criticism of the Government is to say that were they in government they would run the existing system better.

?It is rare for the Labour Opposition to set out a leadership position suggesting that the current system is not working properly and needs substantial change.

?Leadership has been sadly lacking.?

Leadership lacking? Well, there was Goff, before there was Shearer before there was Cunliffe before there was Little…and presumably there will be yet another couple of failed Labour leaders before they get the idea that it is their daft ideas that turn people off.

He gave as an example what happened that when something went wrong in the bureaucracy, a Minister, often the Prime Minister, regretted that it happened and told the bureaucrats to up their game.

?It?s a shrewd strategy because it covers Key in Teflon.

?Labour currently responds by blaming him but leaving no mark on the Teflon.

“The public are smart enough to appreciate that politician cannot be responsible for every mistake the bureaucrats make.

?In particular, Labour offers no narrative of why it is the politicians fault, just the not very plausible claim that they can do it better.

?There is little attempt to ram home the message that a goodly number of bureaucratic failures are because the public sector is under resourced, squeezed of funds without any reduction of the demands on it.?

Labour are political spastics.?They?keep up the same failed tactics and constantly expect differing results. That is the very definition of madness.

?There are many good things that the Clark-Cullen Government did,” he said.

?Sure it would have done more had it been re-elected for a fourth term.

?But its most lamentable failure was to fail to articulate the social democratic vision leaving those who inherited its mantle struggling about where they are going.?

Only one Labour MP, David Parker, was present for the speech but it is not likely to win immediate approval from the Labour Caucus.

Easton can be an unpredictable voice on the left — last year he supported the TPP — but his critique may find more support as people have time to digest it and think about it.

This may prove to have been an important speech.

It won’t be an important speech, simply because it delivered a message that Labour is not prepared to hear. It will fall upon deaf ears much like anything Chris Trotter has to say.


– Politik